We’re an open book.

While Kiwiblog has been challenging this idea lately, the Greens always were and are still really committed to trying to get the wider population involved in democracy, making it easier and making the say of individuals who are effected by law changes more powerful, and to make political parties more open and accountable.

We’ve always been a grassroots movement and intend to stay that way. We may have a very long party list, but that’s because a lot of our candidates are simply some of our most skilled and respected party members.

We’ve had a record of supporting and pushing for select committees, the part of the law-making process that is most open to public submission and review. The shower requirements National and Act tried to pin on us? They got raised in the select committee process and will probably be a little more forgiving- even though they’re not the only way to meet the energy efficiency standard.

Even though we believed in the general direction of the EFA, we still pushed for and delivered a Citizen’s Assembly to review the Act so the electorate could have its own say on the law without the filter of party interests and ideologies. We also tried to get a lower threshold for which donations could be made anonymously, (we wanted a limit of $1000) and ban donations from anonymous “secret trusts” like those used by New Zealand First, unless they provided the true source of the money. Sadly we were unsuccessful in these areas.

Russel today announced the launch of our Open Government policy, which aims to implement the tougher standards we missed out on when working on the EFA, fix the election date to prevent either Helen Clark or John Key from setting it at a politically advantageous time, and to fix the loophole of recurring small anonymous donations by putting an upper limit on the amount of money any one person or legal entity can donate.1

Apart from electoral issues, we’re also promising to clarify that donations for legal fees should be on the register of pecuniary2 interests, the opening of all archives within 30 years, making Parliament subject to the Official Information Act, and making all international treaties subject to parliamentary vote.

There’s also some excellent stuff in there about making resource consents public and applying our new higher openness standards to local government.

As an increasing number of our MPs, especially those who have tried to campaign on high ethical standards in the past, show that they’re not above the hypocrisy and moral risk of changing their mind and their standards for a decently sized campaign donation, the public needs more information faster if we’re going to keep our elected representatives honest. As the party founded on the principle that politicians are responsible to society as a whole and have obligations to those they serve, we’re also the party with the best record on pushing for that change.

1 For those who don’t follow links, the limit we’re proposing is $35,000.
2 Pecuniary is an old word essentially meaning “relating to personal financial gain”. I had to look it up the first time, too.

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2 thoughts on “We’re an open book.

  1. As the party founded on the principle that politicians are responsible to society as a whole and have obligations to those they serve

    Yes, all the other parties are founded on the principle of politicians being irresponsible and serving themselves. It’s right there in their manifestos!

    Oh? It’s not?

    You mean all parties have a similar mandate?

    Well, they must be lying, right? I mean, all parties say they are committed to open government, but the Greens are telling the truth. I mean, we know we can trust the Greens. They told us we could.

    Have you noticed how, after the GE mortorium was lifted, New Zealand has been overrun with genetically engineered products, to the marked detriment of our health? Thanks for telling us the truth on that one, Greens! We’re all screwed now, but at least we can’t say you didn’t warn us!

  2. Hey- I’m sure the other parties have similar views. However, they don’t have an explicit set of principles they follow that set out how that responsibility should be upheld, which makes it easier for them to get away with more self-concerned behaviour, or simply a lack of engagement with the electorate.

    Bad choice of words- my apologies. 🙂

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